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When Rush Comes to Be Shoved

What have they done to the man? Some serious consideration. Also: Are California Republicans nerds? Plus more.

10.6.03

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KNEECAPPERS
Re: Enemy Central's Baptism Under Fire:

Watching the L.A. Times' attempted knee capping of The Terminator, one might counsel them to pay their respects to Enemy Central. No doubt EC would have advised them to make an offer that could not be refused. Perhaps if Arnold had awakened in a pool of oil, along with the front end of his still warm Hummer, the message would have been received.
-- L. Lovett

Did Joe Wilson go to UCSB? [Yes, Class of '72 --ed.] I went there from 1969-1972 and "got to" experience all the riotous events, with the burning-down of Bank of America the "high" point -- I was in the large crowd that watched. You brought back some old memories! If Wilson is anything like the radicals I knew, then, and it sure seems to be so, then you could say he's achieved his life's goal -- trying to burn down Amerika. A "friend" at that time was photographed by the police throwing something into the bank, and subsequently fled the state, which I found out after being interviewed by an FBI agent. Later, back in Buffalo, he was stopped for a traffic violation and thrown in the hoosegow when dynamite was discovered in his car trunk -- now that was a radical guy!
-- unsigned

I read a quote from Joe Wilson in which he said that Valerie told him she was with the CIA "sometime around their first kiss." Uuhhhh, isn't she herself the source of a leak? All I know about covert procedures come from Vince Flynn books; Valerie would be busted to file clerk for blowing her cover on a date...
-- Beth Reasoner

THE NERD FACTOR
Re: George Neumayr's Losing by Winning:

Neumayr quotes "a longtime California GOP activist" who fingers Stockholm Syndrome as the culprit behind the stunning and complete turnabout for what appears to be many CA Republicans in their incomprehensible support for the joke campaign of the century. (Quite honestly, I keep waiting for the according bombshell revelation so this no-longer-entertaining interlude with the Interloper can end.)

In any event, I have an alternative explanation.

And bear with me: I am a Republican, so I mean no disrespect...

I think many Republicans have a little bit of residual class nerd sensitivities. Republicans -- for the most part, perhaps not including the neocons :) -- were probably the more responsible, striving and obedient students growing up and we all know what can happen to kids who are like that.

So, the scene is set: Davis won the '02 election despite how completely unliked he was. His opponent made a couple errors -- though not nearly of the severity and awfulness of which they are derided as being, particularly by fellow Republicans.

Now, the recall comes up. And lo and behold, the class jock is running and he's running under the nerd ticket!! The nerds can hardly get over themselves, they are so excited. Here is the opportunity to be aligned with "a winner," an "undeniably cool, hip guy."

So they are chomping at the bit. The idea that one of the nerds would be able to intellectually take a step back for even a second and question the "cool guy/ jock's" status as being representative of their beliefs is unfathomable. Nobody wants to say that the emperor has no clothes -- you might piss the emperor off and then he won't run on your ticket and you'll be stuck with nerds again.

Oh well.

Sign me a devoted nerd lover; not nerds who are nerdy for the sake of being nerdy but nerds who have an established value system and live by it.

And whose value system is something worth having in the first place.

I'll not be voting for Arnold,
-- Liz Stinson
CA Republican

RUSHING AVERAGE
Re: Hunter Baker's Rush to Judgment and David Hogberg's McNabbed:

In my humble judgment, both of these columnists are right, at least in part. The ensuing brouhaha has been about judgment, and Mr. Limbaugh failed the test.

First, the national sports media are every bit as liberally biased and the NY Times. Mr. Limbaugh knows this and has said so in more than one forum.

Second, there are certain issues and controversies that are "not ready for prime time." Issues regarding race, gender, or sexual orientation simply can not be debated in any "public" and/or national forum. They can only be addressed "under the table," so to speak. Mr. Limbaugh could well address the black QB and sports media bias on his radio show with impunity, but not on national network TV. Mr. Limbaugh knows this. I didn't say that the rules are fair, only that they are there, and it behooves everyone entering the arena to know them.

Third, the political Left have been frothing at the mouth to "take down" Mr. Limbaugh for well over a decade. They have been, until now, singularly unsuccessful. They are on a constant, never-ending hunt for material to excoriate and humiliate any Conservative, but especially Mr. Limbaugh. Rush knows this.

Therefore, how do we account for this "mistake" by such a high-ranking and supposedly prescient Conservative icon? Though he will vigorously deny it, Rush has come to increasingly believe his own "shtick." With his advanced economic assets and his celebrity status and his increasing interaction with exclusively the political and economic elites, he seems to have come to believe that he was indeed above the fray and "ungettable." I believe that we generally call this arrogance.

Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. O'Reilly openly exhibit, daily, an arrogance that dares their critics do their darnedest. Well, the critics have accepted the challenge in both cases. The critics finally seem to have succeeded in getting Mr. Limbaugh's scalp. They have, and are, coming closer and closer to getting the scalp of Mr. O'Reilly. We will see if Mr. O'Reilly has learned anything, but I seriously doubt it. In Mr. O'Reilly's case I couldn't care less. He is decidedly not a Conservative and prides himself on that fact.

Mr. Limbaugh's forging ahead into territory that he had to know was full of land mines (taking the ESPN gig) is especially disappointing and harmful. Like it or not, he is epitomized as the "numero uno" Conservative icon and stereotype. All of us on the right side of the political spectrum have now been assured that if the Libs can "get" Limbaugh, they can certainly "get" us. In football terms, the Libs in the media and elsewhere have just opened up a huge new can of momentum along with and economy size can of "Whoop**s.

Arrogance and stupidity will never go unpunished in the political arena. For shame, Mr. Limbaugh. You knew better but went there anyway because you were too full of yourself for your own good. TAG! Now you, sir, are it, and all the rest of us on the right will suffer accordingly.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Many East Tennessee football fans may relate the recent uproar about Rush Limbaugh's so-called "racial" remark on ESPN with Peyton Manning's candidacy for the Heisman Trophy. Peyton was a candidate for the Heisman at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. But, it seemed to a lot of East Tennessee fans that ESPN was pushing its own choice-- a black guy, Charles Woodson, from the University of Michigan. Such remarks as "happy feet," "rich," "famous dad," and "white southern boy" plagued Peyton Manning the latter part of his senior year. Until recently, most East Tennessee fans were still puzzled as to why Peyton lost and Charles Woodson won, but after ESPN's shoddy treatment of Rush Limbaugh for using the "black" word, it just may be that their questions have finally been answered.
-- Maynard Thomas Witzel
Knoxville, TN

As an African American Republican, let me offer some insight on why Rush's comments were unwise for that particular venue.

While I agree with much that Limbaugh says on other occasions, this particular issue should not have been brought up at the time, because the discussion it created would only create animosity.

I know most people only see people and not color. This is the case with sports. Football fans and sportswriters don't see a black or white quarterback. They see a quarterback. Football fans of any color don't think about social engineering projects, when it's 3rd and 4. They want their man to come through for the team and them. It's human nature. For every charismatic winner like a Montana, Young, Cunningham, or Moon, there are several more Heath Shulers, Akili Smiths, Tony Banks, and David Klingers. It is just simply not an issue on that level. Football is football, and that is all to it. You win or lose. We have heard complaints of McNabb's product commercials. But what of the same commercials by white counterparts who may be just as inconsistent, or overrated?

As far as why McNabb is the so-called media darling? He is young, athletic, liked by his teammates, liked by the community, and brings a different element to the game. Much like Randall Cunningham did for the same team 10-12 years ago. People like a proven winner, especially when they are affable. Examples of Jake Plummer (Liked by teammates, but not a proven winner IN A MAJOR SPORTS MARKET LIKE PHILLY!!!), and Brian Griese (Great potential, but considered aloof by teammates and fans), do not relate to the case of McNabb. Or even the case of Trent Dilfer (Winner of Super Bowl, but not considered a go-to quarterback to build a team around), is not the same either. Sports is a brutal reality, of stand fillers, and game winners. As insensitive as that is, it still does not rise to the level of a "media conspiracy" to prop a black quarterback up. Especially when other African American quarterbacks like Kordell Stewart, Aaron Brookes, Rodney Peete, and Akili Smith have been raked over the coals for their shoddy performances, as were their white counterparts.

Also, sometimes when we are right about some certain issues in one context, we automatically assume we are right about the same issue in a different context. The times that Rush has spoken on issues of Affirmative Action in corporate and academia America , and media acquiescence to so called "Black Issues," he may have been correct, as was clearly illustrated with the Jayson Blair/New York Times scandal. However, the application in this context is incorrect. He applied his opinion of McNabb (Overrated), as the gospel, and stated that because of his (McNabb's) media presence, it had to be because of him being propped up. Both of which are debatable, but presented as fact, with race being the catalyst for the discussion. In the process he discredited McNabb, the sports writers that cover him and the other QB's in the league of all colors, and the fans. Of whom, if you look at the stands at the next Philly game, you will notice it is quite integrated. It is unfortunate thing one day to wake, and always be the one that is right. At that time, the conviction of how right you are will be so strong, the need to express it may subvert all reason, logic, and practicality.

We all know of the antics of the Sharptons, the Jacksons, the Conyers, and the Waters. They are thespians more so than true activists. These people are actually a creation of the liberal white establishment, more so than the African American community, because the former gave them their limited credibility. If you really want to know what blacks think of these individuals, just ask them. You may be surprised.

We all want to reconcile issues of race, but my conservative friends need to understand that race was made an issue by misguided whites first. If that was the case, the above mentioned misery merchants would not have a platform to stand on. Is it as bad as they say it is? No. Do blacks and other minorities still get shorted in subtle ways that create legitimate complaints? Absolutely.

What is the solution? Acknowledge that all is not square on either side of the debate. Ignore the fringe elements, and deal with the individual without applying the agenda conspiracy. Most blacks just want to be fair. Example, when the uproar of the 20 points applied to black applicants at Univ. of Michigan undergraduate, people forget that schools such as Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama simply did not allow blacks until 40 years ago. They did however allow legacies. So some white students automatically had a "Free Pass." So, it is not a stretch to figure why a school that practiced these policies would still have single digit minority enrollment, even in 2003. And it is not because all the black kids that are student age are locked up, making babies, or unteachable.

If Affirmative Action is racist, and it was created to correct racist discriminatory behavior, then what does that say about society absent of such a corrective measure? We can't just be fair when Rush speaks out against the hypocrisy of the liberal agenda, and gets vilified. We must have the courage to understand that the many complaints blacks have may be legitimate. And maybe some feel it is better that it is addressed by a morally suspect agenda, than to be ignored by a moral, but seemingly indifferent agenda.

Thank you,
-- Chris Gill

Appreciated your thoughts on the Rush Limbaugh brouhaha.

As a fan of Rush since '92 and devoted listener who has made it onto the air with Rush five times over the years, the most recent on Sept. 18 in response to Ed Gillespie's declaration of a domestic policy "Brehznev doctrine," I have to say I am INFURIATED with Rush. How could he be so stupid?!!

No, not in the substance of his remarks. I too believe there is a certain hope amongst the media in all things undertaken by blacks especially if it involves nebulous "barriers" and professional football is not immune from these pressures. The NFL is under public pressure these last few years to implement a type of affirmative action for it's coaching and management staffs, is it not? More than that I cannot say on the subject because I am neither a well versed football fan and certainly not an Eagle fan. No, I think his remarks were not unreasonable, per se, but rather where he said them.

Now, the usual take on this aspect, as Rush himself addressed Friday, is that ESPN is a pure sports show and the mixing of the social/political issues and analysis of the game itself should not be done in that venue. But Rush, first a political gladiator and second an above average sports fan, cannot help but make those connections wherever he may be and that's what's got me mad at him. Read on.

ESPN was not the place to say such a thing not because sports and social policy should not mix but because ESPN is liberal turf as is just about ALL media outside the EIB studios and other recognized conservative outlets. Rush knows that. You wrote much about social taboos, their transformation in our age and the merciless punishment meted out to anyone breaking them. Well, those new rules are pervasive, everywhere at all times and are now so dyed in the fabric of public life that even in ostensibly neutral settings, such as a sports show, you cannot violate them. Though the commentators, producers and others involved with a show such as ESPN may or may not care about such remarks, the "show" is in the public domain and thus subject to the rules.

There is a myth that there are three arenas of debate in the media, academia and politics: Left, neutral and Conservative. There is not, there are two. There are pockets here and there where conservatives can speak their minds and there is everywhere else where liberal rules, "political correctness," dominate. Anyone, anywhere in a public venue in contemporary America are subject to these new politically correct rules, EXCEPT, in those places that I call "free speech zones" such as Rush's show. Today it is only in conservatively occupied zones that people of all political persuasions are free to speak their minds without fear of demonization. David Horowitz, in the chapter entitled "Letter to a Political Friend" in his book Destructive Generation, wrote how he was so pleasantly surprised to witness the free give and take of ideas and debate on the right without the demonization and ostracizing dissenters found on the left. That was over 20 years ago and that disparity has progressed to the point that anybody of any political acumen at all recognizes it. And Rush, of all people, should know it BETTER than anyone else.

When Rush leaves his studio it's as though he is leaving a secure base on patrol into enemy territory. To come back alive one must change his state completely to high alertness, caution and focus. And Rush could and should have know that. He should have known they'd be lying in ambush just waiting for him to cross that line of expressing a thought crime. He admitted to thinking about his remarks the night before the show. Why? If they were just his passing analysis of McNabb's press why such forethought? Because he knew that in such a place, even a supposedly "neutral" arena, his remarks would be controversial and bring fire down upon him. Perhaps he sought to smash some speech "barriers" of his own by introducing the social-politico aspects of football and life in general in these United States into that heretofore "neutral" arena.

What he obviously did not realize, but should have, was just how furious the reaction from official mediadom, of which ESPN is definitely part, would be and how ready to cave the ESPN honchos would be. Perhaps, because he has secured himself behind a stout perimeter in his EIB bunker he underestimated how the p.c. rules apply to everyone else and when on their turf, which is to say everywhere else, through them to him. In other words, he may have anticipated this fight in his front but expected support in his rear and instead was surprised to find the fire coming from all around. He found himself alone and surrounded. As always when the Left wins one, capitulation without honor was demanded and given.

Had he played it smarter he could have used their rules to his favor. By keeping his sports analysis on ESPN strictly to the game itself and, if he so desired, his social commentary on the game and its personalities to his daily radio show he would have separated the content by venue and any ensuing controversies could then be cast clearly as a matter of "free speech". He's then analyzing football on ESPN and running parallel commentary on it's social aspects in the proper venue. Since it's the liberals who insist on conservatives keeping to their reservations he could have credibly argued he was merely exercising his rights where and when they have designated. It's playing the game by their rules for sure, but he could have pushed the envelope far more and far longer than he did and he would have won some more crossover audience while making his political points. As it stands, he quickly offered the Left his head to scalp and they took it.

There is another point I haven't seen commented on much but I think has merit. It is the Left that has politicized more and more aspects of daily life and the Right that seeks to keep the politics out of as much of regular life as possible. Rush himself comments on this frequently. Is it too much to ask for fans to tune into a sports show without being subjected to background political and social issues that touch on the game only tangentially? This is probably the objection Chris Berman and others of ESPN had which Rush alluded to in his Friday show. I think that objection is valid and all the more reason Rush made a terrible mistake bringing up those issues in that venue. Instead of demonstrating to a wider audience he's a regular guy with regular interests and that Conservatives, unlike the Left, can leave politics aside he showed he's a political animal 24/7 and just like the lefties, cannot leave it at the door.

It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. What appears as defeats in the culture wars often are not. I've got to believe the ESPN audience tends to the conservative and the hypersensitive reaction to remarks with which many viewers probably agreed, even if that was not the time to discuss it, will not win the p.c. crowd points. After all, Rush only stated in an oblique way what the Left has maintained on the subject of affirmative action for decades. How can they on the one hand demand affirmative action in coaching and management and then condemn an observation that some people hope a black athlete does well in a position where they are historically "underrepresented". The hypocrisy of his banishment for speaking a plain and benign truth is not lost on most folks. So maybe this episode will in the long run help the cause in defeating the racialist mentality.

Still, I cannot stand to see such a titan of the Right suffer such a self-inflicted injury. This whole episode could of been avoided with a little more calculation on his part, a little more awareness and a little more willingness to put politics away for a few hours. I also cannot stand to see the Left gain such cheap victories, to advance those pernicious rules of theirs but hopefully they'll overplay it as they often do in which case even in defeat Rush will have helped the conservative cause. Time will tell.
-- Mark Shepler
Jupiter, FL

... With respect to the present McNabb/Limbaugh controversy, if a true fan could get beyond all racial aspects, and be like a true coach, who only wants to win (perhaps it's the coaches who are most color-blind, since they are paid to win, or else!), the easiest and most innocuous fact to trump all is the following: any quarterback, halfback or fullback is only as good as the offensive line. Yes, Virginia, the game of football depends on the foot soldiers who are down in the trenches, fighting it out in hand-to-hand combat, each play. Want proof? Last year, when Donovan McNabb and the second string QB went down to injuries, the third stringer took over and proceeded to move the ball to the appropriate players and lead the team to four '"unexpected'" wins, I think, at the end of the season, and thus allow the team to reach the playoffs.
-- James Crystal

LIFE IN LIVINGSTON
Re: Bill Croke's Old West and New in Livingston, Montana and Richard Wheeler's letter ("Moving On") in Reader Mail's What's Real?

As long as the gifted and good-hearted Bill Croke has revived the national fascination with Livingston, Montana, I thought I might as well describe how the old town has fared since the rowdy and legendary 1970s.

The Old Guard is long gone. Tom McGuane lives in the Boulder River drainage, far away, where he hobnobs with his neighbor Tom Brokaw and raises cutting horses. His brother-in-law, novelist and singer Jimmy Buffett, is gone now, but Buffett's hit tune, Livingston Saturday Night, lingers sweetly on. No more feature films these days, no actresses up Deep Creek.

Beat poet Richard Brautigan died by his own hand some while ago in California, and is the object of an admiring cult to this day. Screenwriter Gatz Hjortsberg has been writing a biography of him for the last dozen years, and hopes to publish it in time for Brautigan's hundredth birthday in 2035. Sam Peckinpah remains a legend, referred to in whispered and pious tones, especially when the subject is the bullet holes he put in the ceiling of the Murray hotel now and then, when the spirit moved him.

There still are a few movie stars around, such as Dennis Quaid and Jeff Bridges, but one never sees them. Forty-eight hours of fresh air ruins their lungs and they flee for the smog. But Peter and Becky Fonda live south of town, and are the longest-married of all the Fondas. She is a former Mrs. McGuane. Margot Kidder, another former Mrs. McGuane, bought a fine old Frank Lloyd Wright home from journalist and nonfiction author David McCumber. She trots around the country doing her Vagina Monologues, along with her two pound dogs, one of which is named Pierre, after her dear friend the late Canadian PM. A bumper sticker on her Yukon says, "Somewhere in Texas a village has lost its idiot." She is a happy granny now; her daughter is, or was, or maybe still is, one never knows, married to novelist Walter Kirn, who is writing a new story about polygamists lurking in the backwoods of the West. I'm going to buy that book.

There still are a few writers in town. Diane Smith, an award-winning and gifted Viking novelist, toils away on a third novel. Tim Cahill still heads for far-flung locales for Outside Magazine, dreads deadlines, and generates a huge following. John Taliaferro, a Newsweek editor, produces splendid nonfiction down in Paradise Valley, and winters in Texas.

Doug Peacock, friend of Ed Abbey, is Brother of all Grizzlies, and his wife, Andrea, writes splendidly about corporate malfeasance. Alston Chase has done seminal work on the Unabomber, and has unfrocked Harvard in the process. Tom Goltz generates penetrating nonfiction about the Near East. Maryanne Voellers is one of Hillary's three ghosts, and earned enough from that to twiddle her toes for a while. Scott McMillion produces splendid grizzly bear anecdotes and gets rich. And there's a guy in town who writes horse opera for five grand a pop. But all this is an afterglow.

Artist Russell Chatham opened a splendid five-star restaurant a few years ago, Chatham's Livingston Bar and Grille, and it is a mecca for Hollywood types, the remaining literati, and rubberneckers, as well as Bozeman yuppies looking for celebrities. Add some fine artists and photographers, and some drinking, and you have modern Livingston, Montana.

The town is politically correct, but not so rigorous as Missoula's ecotwits, or Boulder's bikers. One hears the word, "enviros" said without fawning.

Drought has reduced the Yellowstone to a dribble that resembles that of an old man with an enlarged prostate. But Livingston still sings its songs to those of us who love the place.
-- Richard S. Wheeler

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